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Under criticism over Hathras case, UP launches ‘Mission Shakti’ for women’s safety

Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari on Saturday launched a government campaign on focusing on women’s safety, saying the Yogi Adityanath-led administration was working to ensure a secure environment for women and was open to introducing a new law, if needed.

The ‘Mission Shakti’ campaign — which will run from October 17-25 in its first phase and will involve awareness programmes — comes in the wake of criticism against the UP government and the police for its handling of the case related to the gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras last month. Police have been accused of hurriedly cremating the woman’s body without consent, not reacting in a timely manner, raising doubts on the rape allegation and blocking the woman’s family from speaking to the media — triggering nationwide outrage and protests.

“The government has made up its mind to be unsparing in dealing with sex offenders, molesters… a lot of things are under consideration in this regard. The government may even think of bringing a new law for this purpose, if needed at all,” Tiwari said on Saturday, adding that the 180-day statewide campaign launched on the first day of the Navratri festival was a significant step in empowering women.

Tiwari said the state government would ensure that the laws related to sexual offences were implemented in letter and spirit, and that the victims got justice in a time-bound manner.

“We will also ensure that medical check-up of every rape victim is necessarily done within 24 hours of the crime and FIRs are lodged in every rape case reported to the police, failing which an FIR will be lodged against the concerning police personnel for dereliction,” he said.

Experts had previously pointed out the Hathras victim’s forensic report — which was cited by the UP police to say that the sexual assault allegation could not be verified — may not have confirmed rape as the medical samples were taken days after the alleged incident.

The chief secretary also spoke of the advisory that the BJP-led central government issued to all states and Union territories on the mandatory actions to be taken in cases pertaining to crimes against women. “We will strictly follow the advisory, besides enforcing the state’s own laws to protect women from sexual crimes,” Tiwari said.

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